Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said on Wednesday that there was no reason for concern that the U.S.-China trade war would “spill over into” defense discussions between the two countries.
“Trade runs a separate track, and we’ll solve that. It is too important not to solve,” Shanahan told reporters. “I don’t believe [it will] spill over into our dialogue and discussion on defense.”
Shanahan began his eight-day trip to Asia on Tuesday, during which he is expected to meet with the Chinese defense minister, Wei Fenghe. The two will most likely meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit in Singapore, CNBC informs.
“The nice thing about being able to meet face to face is we’ll probably be able to talk about how do we really have an ongoing dialogue,” Shanahan stressed.
He further pointed out that his goal was to “have very candid discussions” on certain topics in order to determine areas of cooperation with China.
The meeting will come amid growing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, provoked to an extent by tit-for-tat tariffs the two sides have been imposing on each other’s imports.
After trade negotiations with China collapsed earlier this month, President Donald Trump decides to increase tariffs on billions worth of Chinese products and Beijing quickly responded with retaliatory tariffs of its own.
The two countries appear unable to reach an understanding on sticky issues such as intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers. The U.S. has accused Chinese companies of sharing information with the country’s government, thus endangering American national security and costing the U.S. billions of dollars in lost revenue, accusations that Beijing vehemently denies.
In an effort to protect its most sensitive information, the United States has banned American companies from doing business with Chinese tech giant Huawei.
“One of the things that underlines an alliance is the ability to share information, and when we share information with allies and partners we have to have common standards of information assurance,” said General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We have to be sure that our secrets are protected, whether it be intelligence or technology transfer.”
Shanahan expressed similar views Wednesday, saying that China is trying to “steal its way to a China-controlled global technological infrastructure, including 5G” and that Huawei is the perfect example of the Communist’s Party approach toward achieving global dominance in advanced technology.